M v. H 15.06.21
A 47-year-old pharmacist recovered £465,000 in respect of post traumatic fibromyalgia sustained in a rear-end shunting road accident.
B sustained soft tissue injuries and psychological symptoms in the accident. The latter deteriorated rapidly, such that within 3 weeks of the accident she was exhibiting suicidal ideation.
A combination of pain from her whiplash injuries and depressed mood and heightened anxiety deprived her of restorative sleep from the time of the accident.
What started out initially as pain predominantly in her neck and right shoulder spread to become widespread, affecting multiple joints and accompanied by pervasive fatigue, headaches and cognitive slowing.
She was diagnosed with post traumatic fibromyalgia, major depression (F43.2) and a severe adjustment disorder (F43.22).
Her rheumatologist explained that the likely mechanism for the pain from the whiplash injury becoming widespread and centrally sensitised was a combination of psychological factors and the inability to achieve restorative sleep.
She underwent appropriate treatment modalities in the form of anti-depressant and neuropathic pain medication, psychotherapy and access to a residential pain management programme, none of which broke the deadlock in her symptoms.
The symptoms brought about a breakdown in her relationship with her partner; she was unable to return to her career.
The case was defended initially on the basis of a low velocity impact incapable of causing significant injury.
Expert biomechanical evidence confirmed that the speed change in B’ car from the rear-end shunt in the first 1/10th of a second after impact was between 6.6 and 9.3 mph, well above the threshold capable of causing whiplash injury.
The defence sought to attribute the presentation of B’s downturn in health to pre-existing vulnerability, a coincidental descent into fibromyalgia that was unrelated to any traumatic trigger and unrelated stressors in her life, focussing in particular on strains in her relationship with her partner.
The case settled through negotiation at the 5th anniversary of the accident.